The number of unvaccinated people ending up in hospital with Covid is “concerning”, Boris Johnson has said.
Three quarters of those hospitalised had not had a Covid jab, with a “higher proportion” of younger people now being affected, he said.
He added that while lifting most restrictions in July continued to look right, there was still a risk as infections remained high.
The UK has reported more than 30,000 cases for the last nine days in a row.
The number of people in hospital with Covid is also rising. It currently stands at 7,907, compared to 5,697 a month ago.
Roadmap ‘looks right’
Speaking at St Thomas’ Hospital, London, the prime minister told the BBC: “It’d be fair to say the decision to go ahead with the roadmap in the way that we did continues to look right.
“The openings that we did in July continue to look right – we’re seeing the fastest growth of any G7 economy now we’re comparatively open in this country.
“But we’ve got to be very clear with people. There still is a risk out there and there still is a pandemic, and the numbers of infections remain high or high-ish.
“I’m certainly concerned and what I’m particularly concerned about is that in great hospitals like this, 75% of the people who are succumbing to Covid still are not vaccinated.”
Four out of five people aged 16 and above have had two doses of a vaccine, while nearly 89% have had one dose.
“Sadly, we are seeing an increase in the proportion of Covid victims who are younger people,” the prime minister said, urging those who were unvaccinated to get their jab.
“What we want to do is get people to see the value of vaccination to themselves and their families.”
What we are seeing with Covid is not a sudden surge like in previous waves, but a slow, gradual build-up of pressure.
The virus is not raging out of control, but it is still circulating and at quite a high level.
The vaccines are working really well.
But with one in five adults still not fully vaccinated, there are millions of people at risk.
That, as the prime ministers says, is the most significant cause of the pressure in hospitals.
Only around 7% of hospital beds are occupied by Covid patients, but if that keeps increasing along with the return of normal winter viruses, hospitals will have to start rationing other types of care more.
It’s going to be a long, hard autumn and winter for the NHS.
Asked about reports the government was planning of a “firebreak” lockdown in October, he said: “There’s been no discussion of anything like that.”
Mr Johnson also reiterated the government’s plan to offer a booster vaccine to the most vulnerable groups this month.
It had already been announced that half a million of the most vulnerable in the UK will be offered a third dose, following a recommendation from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.
About 400,000 to 500,000 people in the UK with severely weakened immune systems will be eligible for a third dose of vaccine.